By: Sabrina Weaver – Finance Leader; Leslie Cherian – HR Leader, M&R; Patty Warner, CHRP – HR Director, Global Composites; and Mike Lewis, CMRP – Manufacturing Reliability & Property Risk Control Leader
Today, more than ever before, world-class manufacturing demands a progressive Maintenance & Reliability (“M&R”) strategy. A robust M&R strategy enables operations to achieve optimal performance in pursuit of exceptional overall business results. A safe, predictable, and reliable operation ensures customer needs can be met as planned while also equipping the operation to consider needs and solutions for the future. Engaging and growing a diverse and capable team of top talent is critical to all M&R strategies. Technical innovation requirements, skill shortages and gaps, increasing retirements, and decreased popularity of manufacturing careers are among the challenges to building a talented team.
Owens Corning global operations leadership works to embrace a culture of appreciation where everyone feels free to express themselves, be heard and valued so they contribute at their fullest potential every day. We believe it’s critical to intentionally create inclusive environments by building and supporting our diverse workforce to ensure our organizations reflect the communities in which we live, work, and serve. A creative focus on women in maintenance and reliability will support our proactive strategy, to deliver optimal asset performance in direct support of the company’s business strategies. It is our responsibility to not only attract, but also grow and develop our talent to be capable today and in the future.
While manufacturing may not always be an obvious career choice for a woman, Mabel Lemoine pursued this path as a pioneer in the field. As the first female maintenance leader at Owens Corning’s largest U.S. Composites plant, in Amarillo, Texas, Mabel quickly demonstrated her impact and encourages other women to pursue opportunities in this industry. “Take a leap of faith and surround yourself with good mentors, both male and female, that have walked the path before you,” she says. “And never hesitate to ask for help and support.”
Amy Creeks, a training coordinator at the company’s Newark, Ohio, Insulation plant, chose a career in manufacturing after managing a women’s clothing store and spending time in the U.S. Marine Corps. “I first decided to come to maintenance for more stability for my family,” Amy said. “It offered stable hours and I had two small children at home. And it interested me. I had no experience with any type of mechanical work and it was exciting to learn something new.” Her advice for women considering roles in M&R? “Just Do It! Don’t be afraid or intimidated by the role or the lack of women currently in it. More and more women are entering the skilled trade fields. It’s a career, not just a job.”
Emily Schickler, an enterprise reliability engineer at Owens Corning’s Granville, Ohio, Science & Technology Center, was drawn to M&R after working with a reliability engineer on a root cause analysis at a previous employer. Emily was intrigued by the role and fell in love with the methodology it requires. After working for a previous employer as a reliability engineer, she joined OC as the first female in this role within the Manufacturing Reliability team. She relishes the moments when she can share what reliability can do for a plant. Emily attended a recent workshop with fifth-grade students and said the girls were surprised that she was an engineer. Recognizing that a gender gap persists for women in manufacturing, Emily wants to be part of helping the next generation of women see themselves as an engineer in this space. “I would like to continue encouraging young girls to pursue STEM careers,” she said.
Amanda Moore began working in M&R while in college in 2000 as a part-time junior engineer and has been in a maintenance or engineering role ever since. Currently the maintenance leader at Owens Corning’s Medina, Ohio, Roofing facility, Amanda has helped develop other females to follow in her footsteps. “I enjoy solving problems, striving to making things better and helping people grow and develop,” Amanda says. “I am most proud when someone on my team is promoted. There is nothing more rewarding to me than to see the people I am helping to realize their potential.”
When asked about the elements that have been most critical to their success, these leaders shared that it is most important to have a strong support system, to listen as much as lead, to take risks and be willing to make mistakes, and most importantly, to not give up.
While women in M&R are still underrepresented, the positive impact and contributions of those in the organization are fully evident. These women have been pioneers for Owens Corning and exemplify how an engaged, empowered, and diverse workforce can support exceptional outcomes for an organization. While there is still a long way to go in this journey, Mabel, Amy, Emily, and Amanda, along with their peers, demonstrate that Owens Corning’s commitment to leveraging women in maintenance and reliability is essential to preparing the company’s operations for the future and ensuring manufacturing excellence performance in its facilities around the world.